Nearly two thirds of the public do not support Lithuania's current policy on China, a survey commissioned by the Foreign Ministry shows. However, the foreign minister insists the government's China policy is what it has always been.
Relations between Vilnius and Beijing soured last year after Lithuania opened a Taiwanese representative office. China has been arguing that the name “Taiwanese”, rather than “Taipei's”, violates the One China policy. Beijing has also subjected Lithuania to undeclared trade sanctions.
The survey, conducted on December 10-18, asked respondents, among other questions, how they viewed Lithuania's policy on China. Only 13 percent said they supported it, while 60 percent had a negative opinion.
In general, public trust in Lithuania's foreign policy stands at 30 percent, according to the survey results announced on Tuesday, while 47 percent said they did not trust it.
Commenting on the results, Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis criticised the wording of the survey question and said Lithuania's China policy has not changed.
“Lithuania has de facto never changed its policy on China. China has decided to apply unannounced, most likely illegal measures against Lithuania and the European Union,” Landsbergis told reporters on Wednesday. “That’s the fact of the matter.”
Landsbergis said that, in his view, some of the questions in the poll were not worded precisely enough.
“I would probably ask whether Lithuania should support, agree with the aspiration of Taiwan’s people to be called Taiwanese, instead of asking about Lithuania’s policy on China,” the minister said.
Amid the Vilnius-Beijing diplomatic row, Lithuania’s businesses have complained of various restrictions in trade with China, which the country’s politicians have described as unannounced sanctions.
According to media reports, China has also been pressuring international companies to drop their Lithuanian suppliers.